Six months had passed since Grace had freed Kuro from her father’s aquarium. Upon freeing Kuro, she had managed to contact several animal right’s activists and explained to them what her father had done. It didn’t take long for the police to be involved and they quickly found out that her father was found guilty for the mistreatment and abuse of many marine animals. As a result, Professor Blackwood was sent to a lifetime in jail and his aquarium was closed down. All of the marine animals that used to live in the aquarium were rehabilitated and put back into the ocean respectively. Helen, Grace’s mother, took some time off work to be with her daughter after hearing what had happened to her ex-husband and celebrated Grace’s eighteenth birthday together a few weeks after the aquarium closed down. Grace finished her last few months of school and decided to take a gap year to figure out what she wanted to do. But the truth was, all she could think about was Kuro. She worried daily if he was alive and well and she had no way of knowing if he was alright. Even though her father had been sent to prison, it still wasn’t safe for Kuro to return back to the local beach where Grace lived. Other fishermen who had heard the news of Kuro’s release were eager to add another fishing prize to their collection, and Kuro was number one on that list. Thankfully, however, no fishermen had even caught a glimpse of Kuro since his release.
One uneventful morning, Grace decided to go down to the beach to take her mind off her troubles. As she walked down to the beach, she could feel the salty breeze comb through her hair as she inhaled the fresh sea air into her lungs. Heaving out a sigh, she felt the sand in between her toes and edged closer towards the glistening water. The sun dazzled against the skin of the water, making the sea sparkle like diamonds in the sunlight. The water gently caressed over her feet as she felt the cool sensation of the seawater hugging her skin. She stared out to the open ocean, longing to see any of the telltale signs of water mist from a blowhole, but there was nothing but rippling water. Very slowly she inched closer into the sea, the water now above her ankles as she delved deeper, the wind whipping past her golden locks. Something stirred deep inside her, tugging at her chest, pulling her deeper into the big blue like a magnet. Maybe if she went out deeper into the water, maybe, just maybe, she might find some trace of Kuro.
No, what the heck am I thinking? Kuro is out there, somewhere, but far away from here, she thought, dragging herself away from the pull of the tide. There’s no way that I would ever find him here, Grace was now standing in the wet sand, her eyes were still locked with the sapphire blue water that stretched out before her.
But I don’t know if he’s okay…how do I know if he’s not hurt? She bit the bottom of her lip. Her eyes suddenly darted away from the ocean and to the port where all of the boats were stored. Of course, her father’s old boat was still there…completely untouched and unused since his teenage years. It was still fully operational though, but nobody, not even her father, had touched it in a very long time. Her father had in fact taught her how to drive the vessel a few years ago, and she knew how to operate the boat by herself.
Maybe…what if I did a little exploration trip, a smile tugged at the corner of her lips. And, supposedly, I found Kuro while I was sailing out there…I would finally know if he’s doing okay…of course, it is a bit of a longshot, but…
Grace’s feet appeared to move by themselves as she raced back home, her hair flowing behind her like a golden river as she ran through the village and back to her house. Grace’s mother, Helen, was sipping a cup of tea whilst reading her favourite book when her daughter burst in through the front door.
“Mum!” Grace exclaimed, her silver-blue eyes wild with excitement.
Helen nearly dropped her cup of tea. “Y-yes, whatever is the matter dear?”
“I have a crazy idea,” she panted, walking over towards where her mother sat. “And you aren’t going to like it.”
Helen raised an eyebrow at her daughter. “And what, may I ask, is this crazy idea of yours?”
Grace inhaled deeply, closing her eyes, and then exhaled calmly. She cleared her throat and steadied her breathing.
“Mum, you know how I freed Kuro six months ago,” she said. “Well, I was thinking…”
“Go on,” her mother said.
Grace swallowed hard. “I was thinking…maybe I could…go on a field trip out into the ocean, to…see if Kuro is doing okay.”
There was a pregnant pause as Helen processed what her daughter had just spilled out in front of her. Helen slowly placed her cup of tea on the coffee table and turned to face her daughter.
Grace chewed the bottom of her lip, afraid of what her mother was going to say. Despite the fact that her mother had been mostly absent since her parent’s divorce, the past six months she had spent recently with her mother had been rather peaceful and nice. She hoped her mother would understand just how much Kuro meant to her and would let her go.
Helen took in a deep breath. “He…he really means a lot to you, doesn’t he?”
Grace gave her mother a small nod. “Yes.”
Helen placed a warm hand on Grace’s shoulder, her brown eyes gazed at her daughter, a tear threatened to roll down the older woman’s cheek.
“If he really means that much to you, then go.”
Grace stared at her in shock as her mother’s words began to sink in.
“Do you really mean that?” she said softly.
Her mother nodded, her face pulled into a warm, gentle smile.
“You need him,” said Helen. “And I’m sure he needs you too.”
At hearing her mother’s words, she quickly embraced her into a gentle hug and kissed her cheek.
“Thank you so much Mum,” she said, her voice muffled as it was buried in her mother’s shirt.
“You just have to promise me one thing.”
Grace pulled away from her mother’s embrace so that she could look at her face.
“Promise me you’ll be safe, okay?”
Not long after that Grace immediately began to pack her things, spare changes of clothes, her toiletries, food, water, and other essential items. She had no idea how long she was going to be out at sea, but she packed enough so that it would last her for several weeks. Once she had finished packing, she gave a final farewell to her mother and bolted down to the docks. Piloting a boat was almost child’s play to her, seeing as she had grown up with a father who spent so much time out at sea on boats. No one batted an eyelid to her as she loaded the boat with her belongings and untied the loop of rope that held the vessel to the docks. As she began to set sail out into open water, she saw her mother waving goodbye on the docking platform in the harbor. Grace tooted the boat’s horn and waved at her mother until she was no longer in sight. Grace propelled the boat full speed ahead, the waves licking the sides of the vessel as she powered through the water on her boat.
For once, Dad actually left behind something useful, she thought silently, I’m coming Kuro!
Several days had passed since Grace had set sail to find Kuro. So far, she had seen a small pod of dolphins and some passing humpback whales but no signs of any giant orca merman. That didn’t break her stride, however, she was determined more than anything to locate Kuro and that drove her forward.
Honestly, who knew that something so big could be so hard to find? she thought, chewing into a ham sandwich as she gazed out into the open blue water. I know he’s out there…somewhere.
Swallowing the last mouthful of her sandwich, Grace pulled up the anchor of the boat and continued to push on through the sea. The weather had been fairly decent to her, there had been no serious storms or rain during her search so far. Hopefully her luck with the weather wasn’t going to run out anytime soon. After a few hours, the sun began to set and Grace wasted no time in lowering the anchor into the water so that she could rest for the night. The boat that her father had left behind was one of the best ones available. It had a luxury bed, bathroom, cooking facilities and a nice small deck to stare out into the ocean to. Before Grace got ready for bed, however, she decided to look out into the sea in case she saw any telltale signs of a blowhole. While she knew that it would be rather unlikely, considering how vast the ocean was and she had no idea where Kuro had swum off to, she felt like watching the sea for a while would put her mind at ease. She made her way out onto the deck, pulling up a folding chair and plonked herself onto it. The sea was completely still, not one sound could be heard except for the gentle lapping of the waves that brushed against the boat. She waited for any signs of a blowhole or a giant black dorsal fin, but of course, there was nothing but the calm water gently licking the side of her boat. The stars were shining brightly above her like fireflies caught in a giant web and she had a small hope that, perhaps the stars, somehow, would guide her to Kuro’s whereabouts. But, of course, the stars only provided a pretty sky to gaze at.
Maybe I should just call it a night… She started to make her way back inside the boat but she soon stopped dead in her tracks. She gasped at the sight that she saw looming before her, her pulse rapidly increasing by the second. A giant dorsal fin was slicing through the water at an alarming rate and it was heading straight towards the boat.
There’s only one dorsal fin that could be that big…
After so many days of searching, she had finally found him. Her heart began to swell with happiness as she rushed over to the railings of the deck and waved her arms about in hopes of grabbing his attention.
“Kuro, it’s me Grace!” she called out, her body filled with excitement at the thought of finally seeing Kuro again. The dorsal fin wasn’t making any attempts to slow down, in fact, it appeared to be going even faster than before. As the fin grew closer, she stopped waving and her arms dropped to her sides.
Something isn’t right.
Grace suddenly realized that the giant dorsal fin did not look that of orca origin, but in fact, it resembled that of a great white shark more than anything. She felt her heart drop like a stone.
The shark fin was now right in front of her boat, and before she even had time to run and start the boat’s engine, the fin was soon replaced by a towering merman that was certainly not Kuro. This merman, instead of being part orca like Kuro, appeared to be part shark and had a wickedly toothy grin. He had a crop of spiky grey hair on his head, clawed hands, a rather toned body and a large, lightning bolt-like scar across his left shoulder. Grace knew for certain that this merman was far from friendly, thanks to her father’s info on the shark Merpeople from his journal.
“Oh, now what do we have here hmm?” the shark merman purred, his torso looming over Grace’s petrified frame.
“Get back, I’m warning you!” she said fiercely, but she couldn’t mask the fear in her voice.
The merman merely appeared to be amused by her bold statement.
“Food that has attitude! Boy, now I’ve seen everything.” He laughed, flashing his jagged shark-like teeth.
As soon as he had called her food, she had managed to find her feet and scrambled into the control room of the boat. She desperately tried to start the boat’s engine but the boat refused to start up.
Of course, it decides to pack up right when there’s a giant shark merman waiting to eat me!
“Hey, where do you think you’re going? Do you honestly think you can hide from Slash?” rumbled the shark merman.
Hold on second, did he just say that his name was Slash!?
All of a sudden, the boat began to rock violently, and Grace soon lost her balance and fell onto the floor. Grace was thrown about repeatedly in the control room as the merman continued to rock the boat aggressively. Suddenly, everything stopped and went quiet. Grace felt as if somebody had glued her to the floor as she tried to steady her breathing.
“That fear smells divine,” rumbled Slash, his booming voice rattling her ribcage.
I’m so dead, she thought, swallowing down the lump that was beginning to form in her throat.
Okay, Slash must be at least 50 or 60 feet, not as big as Kuro, but still awfully big…she thought silently as she mulled over the dire situation over in her head. There were no weapons on board the boat that she could use to defend herself and the boats engine was toast. Her heart began to thump wildly in her chest as she tried to think of what she could do to prevent herself from becoming shark food, but she couldn’t think of anything. She had no weapons, she couldn’t escape to safety – she was completely out of options. All of a sudden there was a loud creaking sound coming from the boat’s ceiling, almost as if somebody was trying to rip the boat’s roof off.
“Oh no,” she said hoarsely as the boat’s roof was torn clean off, rubble and debris showering down like rain, and Grace was once again face to face with the giant man-eating shark merman. She tried to find her feet but she kept on falling back down again, her body was completely stricken with fear. Slash let out a deep, booming laugh which sent large racking vibrations through the salty air.
“Awh, how cute – she can’t even stand up!” he bellowed harshly.
“Don’t call me cute!” she snapped up at him, forgetting for a brief moment that he could literally end her life whenever he pleased.
“There’s no need to be like that now,” he growled, plucking her up from the floor as Grace let out a scream of protest.
“Put me down right now you overgrown fish!” she shrieked at him, flailing about in his grasp.
Slash let out a low, rumbling chuckle. “Out of all of the humans that I’ve encountered, you have been the most interesting out of all of them by far.” He grinned devilishly.
Grace narrowed her eyes at him, knowing all too well that she was at his mercy and that he had every intention of eating her, but that didn’t stop her from putting up a fight. “I know an orca Mer,” she hissed bravely, remembering that Slash knew of Kuro’s mother. “I know Yin’s son.”
Slash’s eyebrows shot up, his mouth opened wide in shock at hearing those words fall out of her mouth. “How do you know about Yin?” he croaked, completely dumbfounded.
“I know her son,” she replied, sweat beading her forehead. “I’m very good friends with him, actually. He could easily turn you into chum if he found out that you were planning on eating me.”
Slash’s yellow eyes narrowed into slits, his lips peeled back into a snarl. “Who cares if you know Yin’s son? And besides, I haven’t seen an orca Mer in almost fourteen years. Now shut up will you, I’m starving.”
Slash then opened his huge mouth, revealing his dangerously pointed shark teeth and began to lower Grace towards his lips.
“NO, YOU CAN’T!” she screamed at the top of her lungs, struggling as hard as she possibly could as Slash continued to lower her towards his gaping mouth.
Just before Slash could deposit Grace inside his mouth, a towering mass suddenly slammed into the shark merman knocking him into the dark water. Due to the sudden impact, Grace went flying straight out of his clawed fingers and plummeted into the sea. She couldn’t make any sense of what was going on around her, as everything underneath the churning waves was pitch black. Through the moonlight, Grace could just barely make out two large masses thrashing violently in the water, and the immediate thought that came to her mind was to get out of there and swim to safety. Kicking out her legs, she broke through the surface of the water while hungrily gulping down air. Giant splashes erupted through the moonlit waves, large tails harshly slapping the skin of the water, as the two giants fought fiercely underneath the sea. Grace quickly swam towards her battered boat and pulled herself up onto the deck of the boat, heaving with every breath as her heart pounded against her chest like a drum. The two giants created giant waves that slapped against her boat due to their ferocious fighting and splashing, causing Grace to grip firmly onto the rails as more waves continued to rock the vessel.
Maybe…maybe that’s Kuro out there? She thought hopefully as the two giants continued to battle. But then again, it could also be another shark Mer…
Grace tried to make out just who exactly was Slash’s opponent, but the lack of light and their sudden movements almost made it impossible to make out. After some time, however, the fighting ceased. She saw Slash’s dorsal fin make a hasty retreat into the vast ocean and vanish under the waves, it looked like he was no longer interested in making her his next meal. Her gaze flickered back to where Slash and the other Mer had been fighting, but she was greeted with nothing but still water. Her eyes scanned the rest of the open sea, desperately searching for any signs of a giant orca dorsal fin, but she couldn’t see any signs of one. She still had no idea if the Mer that Slash had been fighting was in fact Kuro, but regardless, the Mer had still saved her life.
“Kuro!” she yelled out into the night air, hoping to see his kind face emerge from the water. Seconds passed and there was still nothing. Her heart began to drop, her hopes slowly diminishing. Perhaps it had been another shark Mer that only wanted to settle some old scores with Slash and be on their way. She called out Kuro’s name once more, and after a few minutes, she sighed and turned back inside her damaged boat.
Her heart nearly stopped as she slowly turned around, her gaze meeting two giant emerald orbs that bore down at her from above. Her breath hitched as she drank in the features of the looming creature that towered before her, completely bathed in moonlight, as a bright smile soon spread across her face, her heart beginning to sing with joy.